Buy/Drive/Burn: Three Cars, One Platform - 2002 DEW Edition

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis

Last time on Buy/Drive/Burn, we checked out three C-body offerings from General Motors and forced you to choose one. The luxury flowed freely, and only limited salt was dashed upon its splendor.

Today we follow the same form with Ford, looking at offerings from three different brands riding on the same platform. Crack open a DEW and let’s get to it.

The DEW platform was developed for use by Ford and cars in the Premier Automotive Group (PAG). PAG was a grouping of Ford’s luxury automotive brands, an idea generated under CEO Jacques Nasser in 1999. Aston Martin, Lincoln, Jaguar/Land Rover, and Volvo were all grouped under the prestigious PAG umbrella. By 2002, the midsize rear-drive DEW underpinned three different Ford vehicles, so that’s our year of discussion.

Jaguar S-Type 4.2

Jaguar’s new S-Type debuted for the 2000 model year, aimed squarely at the North American market. Vintage retro cues combined with modern tech in an entry that was smaller and more sporty than the XJ flagship sedan. The intent here was to draw younger and sporting-prone affluent customers to Jaguar’s fusty showrooms. For 2002 the S-Type’s V8 was enlarged from 4.0 to 4.2 liters, bringing horsepower to an even 300. 2002 was also the last year for the S-Type’s initial interior design with U-shaped center console. Navigation was not an option, but leather and walnut wood covered most surfaces in traditional fashion. The S-Type R added a supercharger to the 4.2 V8, but that sleek barnstormer is outside our purposes today.

Lincoln LS 3.9

The other sedan offered on the DEW at the time, Lincoln’s new LS, had much the same mission as the S-Type: offer a sporty sedan for young, upscale customers. Compared to the S-Type, the LS was considerably more modern. And while it bore resemblance to the other contemporary Lincoln offerings, it didn’t take part in any retro throwbacks. Due to its close relation to the Jaguar, the LS was offered with Jaguar-designed V6 or V8 engines. Base models were powered by the 3.0-liter AJ30 engine, also shared with lower-end S-Types. The altered AJ V8 was a shrunken 3.9-liter Jaguar design, used only by Ford and Lincoln and built in Ohio. Through 2002, the 3.9 made 252 horsepower, with an upgrade to 280 horses in 2003.

Ford Thunderbird

Only one coupe ever rested atop the DEW, and it was Ford’s brand new Thunderbird. Introduced for the 2002 model year, the sporting coupe had been on hiatus from Ford’s lineup after the 1997 model year, and the Blue Oval made a big deal of its return. The new Thunderbird leaned heavily on then-popular retro styling, just like the S-Type. It bathed itself in cues from historic Thunderbirds of yore. Seating only two people in its cockpit, the Thunderbird’s retro exterior did not carry over to its interior. Many components and materials were shared with the LS, with a few some model-specific trim items and fonts. For its introductory year, Thunderbird carried the same 252-horsepower 3.9-liter V8 as the Lincoln LS. The shortest-lived of our trio, the Thunderbird lasted only through 2005 before its cancellation.

Two sedans, one convertible: Which DEW is for you?

[Images: Jaguar Land Rover, Ford, Wikimedia ( CC BY-SA 3.0)]

Corey Lewis
Corey Lewis

Interested in lots of cars and their various historical contexts. Started writing articles for TTAC in late 2016, when my first posts were QOTDs. From there I started a few new series like Rare Rides, Buy/Drive/Burn, Abandoned History, and most recently Rare Rides Icons. Operating from a home base in Cincinnati, Ohio, a relative auto journalist dead zone. Many of my articles are prompted by something I'll see on social media that sparks my interest and causes me to research. Finding articles and information from the early days of the internet and beyond that covers the little details lost to time: trim packages, color and wheel choices, interior fabrics. Beyond those, I'm fascinated by automotive industry experiments, both failures and successes. Lately I've taken an interest in AI, and generating "what if" type images for car models long dead. Reincarnating a modern Toyota Paseo, Lincoln Mark IX, or Isuzu Trooper through a text prompt is fun. Fun to post them on Twitter too, and watch people overreact. To that end, the social media I use most is Twitter, @CoreyLewis86. I also contribute pieces for Forbes Wheels and Forbes Home.

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  • Edsel Maserati Edsel Maserati on May 16, 2018

    I actually drive a Jaguar. I love it. Got it cheap with low miles. Took some work to get it in fine order, but since then it's been a charm and I've driven halfway across country four times now. I just like the feeling I get in my Jag. When I see other Jag drivers, we give each other the thumbs-up every time. Mine is a 1990, so the reports here on the cam tensioner meltdown have given me the heeby-jeebies. The previous owner had the expensive transmission replacement job. I think Jag strengthened it in 1992 or so. The later supercharged S-type R version is the one to get. I drove it when it came out and it was beautifully muscular. I think the Jag lines have some character so the churlish comments above don't matter. Back in 1990, the Jaguar cut a nice figure. I knew the Lincoln was its American cousin but to me it looked like a horrible compromise, the sort of thing that American car companies specialized in -- ransacked by committee-men, made "safe" and bland. Burn this one. The Thunderbird was at least an attempt to get sporty but the looks still had that unfinished look.

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    • Edsel Maserati Edsel Maserati on May 22, 2018

      @Corey Lewis I agree. There were enough brain farts in my post to blow out a volcano. Mine is a 2000 S-type with the 4.0 engine. I first drove this model in 2000. I then acquired mine from a friend a couple years ago. Engine was much happier when I changed to synthetic oil (of which it requires 6.5 quarts. I wonder if folks going to oil-change places get the full 6.5.) The DEW98 platform was shared with the Lincoln LS, which I was aware of back in the day. That's when I formulated my surly opinion of the LS, which actually might have been a fine car. I don't know. It looked compromised to me and I wondered then as I often wonder now how American design got so mixed up. Today I have the added question before me on how I could get so mixed up. You don't have to offer suggestions.

  • Gearhead77 Gearhead77 on May 18, 2018

    Buy the T-Bird, keep it in a bubble to sell at Mecum or Barrett-Jackson in 2040. I'm not a huge fan of this car, but at least Ford tried to re-create the sporty original T-Bird. They wound up with traits from every variation to wear a T-bird badge, but it was a try more along the lines of mid-90's Chrysler than the staid Blue Oval. Drive the Lincoln. I've always liked these cars, even they are a bit bland in execution and 2000's Ford chintzy inside. The only attempt besides the Mark VII LSC to swipe at the Germans in an American way ( Not as big of a fan of the Mark VIII car except in its final year) Burn the Jag- It has not aged well, though the interior is better than the platform mates here. If I want a Jag from this time, it's an XJR.

  • Funky D A few from my road trip playlist: Eddie Rabbitt - Drivin' My Life AwayAmerica - Ventura Highway---Herb Alpert - Route 101Jerry Reed - East Bown and DownEddie Money - Shakin'Lindey Buckingham - Holiday RoadWar - Low RiderTears for Fears - Everybody Wants to Rule the World (Not a driving song per se, but if you've seen the video, you'll get it)Wang Chung - Wait (Gotta see the end credits of "To Live and Die in LA", for this one)
  • Ronin Or can sedans be saved from themselves? Modern sedans have very low entry and seating, and unnecessarily downward sloping rear roofs. This may have been a sleek design center 25 years ago, but it's nice to have an alternative to SUVs for the olds (ie, anyone over 30).
  • Bd2 The Hyundai Sonota is the best sedan on the market right now.
  • Kcflyer hang in there Lexus. Keep making the IS with the V8 and sooner or later I will buy a new one :)
  • 1995 SC I'll take Mystichrome. And a different car